PTSD: triggers, treatment and symptoms

External editing
Man leaning against wall


Post-traumatic stress disorder can severely impair the quality of life in everyday life, at work and in dealings with other people. Therefore, it is important to act immediately if you suspect that you are affected by PTSD. Characterized by different symptoms and triggers, the mental illness can be investigated with the help of various treatment measures.

Man leaning against a wall / Adobe Stock

What is PTSD?

PTSD is the abbreviation of a mental illness called post-traumatic stress disorder. The disorder can result from a horrific event that one has experienced or witnessed. A traumatic experience usually causes temporary difficulties in everyday life. However, if these difficulties no longer disappear or even worsen, one may have post-traumatic stress disorder.

Most experiences involve events that violate one's psychological integrity. After the trauma, the psyche of the affected person does not manage to process it, resulting in the disorder. Symptoms of PTSD do not have to appear immediately after the trauma. In some cases, the psyche tries to repress the traumatic event in advance. As a result of this repression, it can happen that the disorder only breaks out after several months or years.

Moreover, the reprocessing of the trauma does not necessarily have to take place while the patient is awake. The trauma can also be processed during sleep after the event. Often the sleeping form of processing is associated with nightmares. Repression is also often associated with nightmares. Nightmares are among the many signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Treatment measures of a post-traumatic stress disorder

Unlike physical illnesses, mental illnesses always have different effects. For this reason, if you believe you are affected by PTSD, it is important to seek medical advice. As a general rule, the earlier post-traumatic stress disorder is treated, the better the prognosis. The treatment measures vary depending on the symptoms of the affected person. Among the best-known measures are:

Hypnosis therapies

Hypnosis as a form of therapy is nothing new for a long time. It is considered a scientifically recognized and long-tested psychotherapeutic method, which has its origins in the 18th century. The method is successfully applied to children, adolescents and adults in various fields of medicine and psychotherapy. The form of therapy also gives PTSD patients a chance to heal. In hypnotherapy, a specialized therapist brings the sufferer into a safe space where he or she is allowed to work with the trauma in a variety of ways. In most cases, the therapist has the sufferer recall the traumatic event while controlling the patient's emotions. In addition to traditional hypnosis, there are also clinicians who offer virtual reality (VR) exposure therapy.

Cannabis therapies

Cannabis in THC as well as CBD forms has been credited with relieving pain, sleep as well as anxiety and depressive symptoms for hundreds of years. This is exactly why medical cannabis is also utilized as a treatment measure for PTSD. During psychotherapy, taking medical cannabis can ensure that sufferers are more relaxed in everyday life as well as at night. Whether medical cann abis is an option for the sufferer is determined by a doctor personalized to the symptoms and triggers of the disorder.

Brain stimulation therapies

Another and more rarely used method of therapy for PTSD is brain stimulation therapy. There are different approaches in therapy, which are followed by specialized doctors. One approach is the so-called transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS). Magnetic stimulation is specifically designed to balance the out-of-balance brain activity in PTSD as well as depression sufferers. Another approach, which has the same goal, is transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS).


The acronym EDMR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) stands for a form of therapy that involves desensitizing and processing the trauma through eye movements. EDMR combined with other psychotherapeutic measures, is considered worldwide as the most effective treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. During treatment, the therapist asks the individual to recall the trauma while making rapid eye movements to the left and right. The movements strongly resemble eye activity during sleep (REM). The similarity makes it possible to reprocess the trauma. The trauma and the negative emotions associated with it are attenuated in the course of therapy.

Woman with panic attack

terovesalainen / Adobe Stock

Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder

After experiencing a traumatic event, each person's psyche reacts differently. For this very reason, different trauma symptoms exist. These can have a negative impact not only on a person's spiritual well-being, but just as much on their physical health. The symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder can basically be divided into four types:

Symptom Type 1.

The first symptom type of PTSD causes the sufferer to permanently mentally relive the event. The re-experiencing usually happens through intrusive memories, which cause panic, sleep disturbances, and a social phobia.

Symptom type 2

The second symptom type is in contrast to the first type. In the second type, the sufferer's psyche represses the trauma. For example, many PTSD patients cannot remember the trauma. Despite the lack of memories, Type 2 sufferers experience severe emotional lows. Thus, they may try to avoid certain places, activities, and people. If a Type 2 sufferer does remember the trauma, they avoid being reminded of the experience or talking about it.

Symptom type 3

The fourth symptom type of PTSD is manifested by negative changes in the sufferer's thinking and mood. Similar to depression, negative thoughts about oneself and about the world accompany the type. Furthermore, sufferers often experience hopelessness, relationship problems, lack of interest in activities, and memory problems, including not remembering important aspects of the traumatic event. In addition, for children six years of age or younger, symptoms may involve reenactment of the traumatic event or aspects of the event.

Symptom type 4

The fourth type is characterized by persistent feelings of threat, which cause changes in physical and emotional responses. Symptoms of the type, which are also called arousal symptoms, include mood swings, sleep disturbances, concentration problems, irritability, aggression problems, guilt, shame, self-destructive behavior, and anxiety. With the anxiety symptom, it is common for sufferers to think they need to be constantly on guard against danger.

Editorial principles

All information used for the content comes from verified sources (recognised institutions, experts, studies by renowned universities). We attach great importance to the qualification of the authors and the scientific background of the information. Thus, we ensure that our research is based on scientific findings. Guest articles may also contain links to third party websites that are not sources.

Kurt Weber
Guest author

Kurt Weber works as a freelance medical editor and writes professional articles on health-related topics.

The content of this page is an automated and high-quality translation from DeepL. You can find the original content in German here.

Last Update





Your personal medicine assistent

afgis-Qualitätslogo mit Ablauf Jahr/Monat: Mit einem Klick auf das Logo öffnet sich ein neues Bildschirmfenster mit Informationen über medikamio GmbH & Co KG und sein/ihr Internet-Angebot: This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify.

Search our database for drugs, sorted from A-Z with their effects and ingredients.


All substances with their common uses, chemical components and medical products which contain them.


Causes, symptoms and treatment for the most common diseases and injuries.

The contents shown do not replace the original package insert of the medicinal product, especially with regard to dosage and effect of the individual products. We cannot assume any liability for the correctness of the data, as the data was partly converted automatically. A doctor should always be consulted for diagnoses and other health questions. Further information on this topic can be found here.